Excitatory versus inhibitory feedback in Bayesian formulations of scene construction

Alireza Abadi, Keyvan Yahya, Massoud Amini, Karl J Friston, Dietmar Heinke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
213 Downloads (Pure)


The selective attention for identification model (SAIM) is an established model of selective visual attention. SAIM implements translation-invariant object recognition, in scenes with multiple objects, using the parallel distributed processing (PDP) paradigm. Here, we show that SAIM can be formulated as Bayesian inference. Crucially, SAIM uses excitatory feedback to combine top-down information (i.e. object knowledge) with bottom-up sensory information. By contrast, predictive coding implementations of Bayesian inference use inhibitory feedback. By formulating SAIM as a predictive coding scheme, we created a new version of SAIM that uses inhibitory feedback. Simulation studies showed that both types of architectures can reproduce the response time costs induced by multiple objects—as found in visual search experiments. However, due to the different nature of the feedback, the two SAIM schemes make distinct predictions about the motifs of microcircuits mediating the effects of top-down afferents. We discuss empirical (neuroimaging) methods to test the predictions of the two inference architectures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20180344
JournalJournal of The Royal Society Interface
Issue number154
Early online date1 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Active inference
  • Computational modelling
  • Neuroimaging
  • Parallel distributed processing
  • Selective visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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